Article by Eran Bair

A few weeks back I posted the Top 10 Computer Skills the Average Worker Should Have According to the IT Guy.  Today I would like to add some skills that people need to know using Microsoft Word. People often are unsure what Word skills they will need for a general office type of job. Applicants come to my place of employment all the time saying they know Microsoft Office software but they don’t really have basic skills to use it. The idea behind this post  isn’t to be the end all be all documentation on Word but to get you the shy computer type to go out and figure these simple skills out. These are things that most jobs will expect you to know. If you are having too big of a struggle find  someone who can tutor you or use Google to find a how to.

Creating and Saving a Document

Creating a New Document: This might sound silly but I have had to show too many users how to create a Word document.  Office 2007 didn’t make the task any easier but instead made it a little more confusing for the computer challenged.  In Word 2007 just click the round Office button at the top and select new and select blank. It ain’t rocket science but it will make you not look like a dork at your next job.

Saving a Document: What’s the point if you can’t save your work?  Saving seems to come to users a little more naturally than creating but not by much. There are two saves. You can save your document and it will save it where ever the default location on your computer is located or you can choose save as and choose a file type and/or location. Office 2007 lets you choose several formats.  Generally speaking save it in the native format (whatever is the default for your version of Word).

Opening a Saved Document: There are essentially two methodologies to opening a document.  One is to open Word select open and open an existing document.  The other method is to open up my computer and browse to a Word document (The windows Icon should be a dead giveaway) and the default application for that file type will open. Hopefully you chose a Word document.

Side Note: I am often called out to find lost documents. People save their files everywhere under the sun and expect me to read my crystal ball and find their document.  Windows has search function. Learn how to use it and how to browse through files and directories using My Computer.


Using Print Preview Print preview allows you to look at how a document will print out on the page. It also allows you to make corrections to printing related items like margins etc. Play with this feature and you will learn a lot about how Word works.

Printing to a Printer In an office environment odds are very good that you can print to several different types of printers such as laser, color, copiers and color laser. Understand the printer menu and the different functions.

Print selected Parts You can print just sections of a document.  Learn to use print selection.

Print to File This is a simple process that blows the minds of many entry level users. You can print to file. You can print to a text file that you would open using Notepad or you could print to a PDF style document. You don’t always have to print to paper.

Formatting Documents

Aligning/Justifying Text Many people don’t understand different alignments of text. You can left align like normal books. Or you can center align meaning the document is aligned to the center being equal distance from the margin on the left and right but measured from the center. Lastly you can right align, I recommend learning proper formatting styles.  Justifying is making the margins equal without and jagged edges.

Fonts Style & Size For some reason many users don’t understand the importance of fonts, styles and sizes. These items are used to organized documents and break up information. It is also used to make the document easier to read and to scan quickly. It is an art. There are hundreds of resources to help you learn this skill. If you master it there are jobs for you.  And no matter what Comic Sans is not a font you should ever use in a business document.

Line Spacing Line spacing is about readability. Learn how to make documents easier to read by using proper line spacing. I remember my typing teacher (yes I am too old to have had word-processing in High School.) spending days upon days teaching us the proper formatting for documents. Line spacing was mission critical she used to tell us. We had style guide books that would tell us the number of returns for different documents.

Page Orientation Portrait is when the document is taller than it is wide. Landscape is when it is orientated so that the document is wider than it is tall. This affects printing so learn the difference.

Margins, Headers, Footers and Pagination These again are all about making the document readable. Margins are the white space around the text including top, bottom and sides.  Learn how to change them and learn what it does when you print a document. Printer cannot print right to the edges.

Headers and Footers are parts of the document that are on the top and bottom and usually repeat on every page. It is important to learn how to use them. Again it’s about readability of your document.

Pagination is a fancy term for numbering the pages in your document.

Editing Text

Cut, Copy, Paste & Deleting Text These are the most important skills to have when using a computer. There are many ways to do them.  Learn how to do it using right click as well as keyboard short cuts like ctrl+c, ctrl+v. 65 Windows Keyboard Shortcuts will teach you some great shortcuts.

Use Spell Check & Thesaurus The spell checker, thesaurus and grammar checker in Word 2007 is really good. It’s not perfect so proof reading is still mandatory but it helps out tremendously. Learn how to use them. No reason to look like a special needs speller when you don’t need to be.

Using Find & Replace There comes a time in every computer user that search and replace becomes important. Imagine you just wrote a huge 50 page document on the president of the company and your co-worker informs you, you  have misspelled his name. Instead of wondering if you found every mistake you can search and replace the incorrect with the correct. This is an important skill.

Advance Usage

Graphics Everyone likes to insert pictures into their document. This takes some skill to get it to look proper. If you can insert a graphic and have the text align properly to the image you are ahead of the game of the basic Word user.

These are just some of the skills that anyone who says they can use Word should have in their employee tool belt.